The technology in general and in the music industry develops and progresses at breakneck speed, especially in the last few decades. Following the tech trends is a big challenge, both from a financial perspective and also due to the need for constant learning and adopting of new skills required to keep up with the time.
The biggest revolution in the field of music technology is likely the introduction of computers as the center of music studio which nowadays eliminates the need for a bunch of expensive hardware that was once essential for any serious creative work. Although the virtual instruments, effects and other programs for music production often come with quite a price tag, the cost of having a modern home or project studio is still incomparably lower than it was in the past - before computers became an absolute center of our lives. A quarter century ago, very few people could even dream about having their own fully equipped studio where they could pursue their creativity to the full - without the pressure and limitations that are associated with working at a commercial facility.
Despite the revolution brought by computers and software, we're often witnessing the glorious comeback of technologies which are “obsolete” for quite some time now. More and more of home and project studios owners are aiming to add at least a single piece of old school music equipment to their modern gear, regardless of the fact that this is now "stone age technology". Also, it is possible to recreate a magical sound of the tech wonders of yesteryear in great extent using the modern tools available. Taking this into consideration, not many people will venture into buying of antique equipment and they'll often look at those who do as snobs and nouveau riche. For example, if you want to purchase an analog synthesizer from the 1970's, you'll pay a hefty price, especially if you came across a specimen that is in fully working order and well maintained. Contrary to this, you can often purchase a virtual replica of the same thing that is potentially identical sound-wise but also much superior when talking about the reliability and maintenance. At the same time, it's impossible to deny the timeless allure of having a real thing under your fingertips.
The software requires a special consideration when looking at the influence of progress on the quality. As a rule, the software develops at a somewhat slower pace than hardware, but we're still talking about quantum leaps here. This puts even greater financial challenge on the end-users - software being a product that is not a tangible one and also the one that demands you to constantly follow with the suitable hardware. In some cases, it's not at all that difficult to make peace with the progress and the obsoletion of software, since you don't really have a much choice there. The most obvious example of this are operating systems and DAW programs. Not only that the newer versions bring new features and fixes, the older generation of the same software quickly and inevitably becomes non-profitable for further maintenance and customer support. But what about the virtual instruments and sound libraries? In my opinion those, relatively speaking, are an exception to the rule. A quality produced virtual instrument can withstand the teeth of time similar as the quality musical instrument or other hardware equipment.
Let's get back to the question of quality. Does the unstoppable progress of technology - which so quickly makes once great tech achievements “obsolete and unnecessary” - means that the vintage music equipment wasn't of such quality as the modern one? Quite the opposite. Today is the reign of automated mass production while in the past the production processes involved much more of the human factor. This certainly meant an additional degree of quality and value of the final product. There is no doubt that the industry itself has gone through many important revolutions and improvements over the years, but the quality product will always remain a quality product despite the relentless progress of technology and time. But the big question - does the new technology always make our lives better and easier - is not with a straight answer.